Senator Mike Jacobson presents LB281 to rebuild 4-H field at Halsey

NORTH PATTE, Neb. (Nebraska)-A 64-year-old 4-H camp was destroyed after the Halsey National Forest fire in October 2022. A Senator is trying to pass a bill to provide funding to rebuild it.

Sen. Mike Jacobson Wednesday afternoon introduced LB281, his eighth bill in the 2023 Nebraska legislative session, which would provide grants to non-profit organizations seeking to build or renovate existing outdoor education facilities for youth .

The bill would allow for a one-time transfer of $50 million from the state’s general fund to the Department of Economic Development. Applicants are expected to match 25 percent of their financial request, and no applicant will receive more than $30 million.

Jacobson said other NPOs could use the funding, but felt Camp 4-H was most in need of the money.

“The Nebraska Sandhills are a world-class destination,” Jacobson said. “We must simultaneously invest in them, preserve them and experience them.”

Some witnesses supporting the bill said they went to the same 4-H field that burned down and wanted to give current youth the same opportunity.

Backers estimate that the cost needed to rebuild 4-H Field and upgrade its facilities would be priced at approximately $37 million. Annual tourism revenue generated in the Sandhills is approximately $4 million, setting the payback timeline at nearly nine years.

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